The Most Important Thing By Howard Marks (Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor)

This book is about value investing and provides tips on how to avoid common pitfalls of common investors. The methods are proven and are similar to the methods used by Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham. Risk must be properly managed at all costs. There is no one size fit all approach. Investment is an art. Independent thinking is the key for success. The market is not fully efficient and not all available information are priced into the stock. These gaps in efficiencies can be potentially exploited. The key is to estimate an intrinsic value for a stock and use that as a starting point. Choose value over growth. Buy something which is undervalued. However, do take note that the market can stay irrational for a long time. Do not buy something simply because it is popular. Do not use excessive leverage. Risk is subjective and deceptive. Construct probability distributions to predict outcomes. Risk management is the key. Risk can mean different things to different people. Learn to recognize risk early. Recognizing and controlling risk is the key to success. Understand that risk is present even if no losses are incurred. Good risk control will prevent losses from being incurred. Be attentive to cycles. Do not let psychology influence your decision making. Be aware of the pendulum. Try to identify the point that pendulums will reverse. Avoid fear, greed, following the herd, envy, ego etc. Contrarianism is the key. Think long-term. Learn to identify bargains. Undergo a rigorous process. The goal is to find underpriced assets. Be patient. It is okay to pass up good opportunities. Know what you don’t know. Forecasts are usually inaccurate. Have a sense for where we stand. Take a stand on the investing climate at the current moment. Appreciate the role of randomness as well sometimes. Practise defensive investing as well. Adopt the margin of safety concept. Learn to identify pitfalls. The aim should be always to outperform the market. Good luck!




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